This Fall’s TV premieres so far…in brief

The Event premiered this past Monday. It unofficially advertises itself as “the new LOST.”  I’d say that it’s hopeful, but you really can’t set out to be the “next” LOST. It could easily become overly convoluted and difficult to follow. They quickly shifted back and forth between the past and present–don’t get me wrong, I love non-chronological narrative, but this was excessive, almost jarring. I figured out part of it early on, a mini-mystery, but there were enough strings left unraveled at the end that I’ll continue to watch for awhile. Unfortunately, I predict that, like Flashforward, it will not survive the first season. Decent complex shows don’t last anymore unless they’re piloted by J.J. Abrams.

Covert Affairs did not cut it for me as a replacement (or at least a supplement…) for Alias, though it was enjoyable and light, I thought it was too light, lacking gravitas or any real sense of urgency or threat. Nikita, however, will make a better attempt at filling the large gap after Alias‘ departure. Initially, Maggie Q is a little distant, not immediately lovable as Jennifer Garner, but Lynsey Fonseca does a great job of portraying the duality of her position as a mole inside Division–a very SD-6 like organisation. However, the second episode really drew me in, giving some of the backstory between the characters of Nikita and Alex. Also, the character of Michael, a member of Division who trains young adults as assassins/spies is conflicted about his work, possibly leading to another ally of Nikita and Alex. I look forward to this show’s success, especially on the CW, which means it is less likely to be cancelled offhand (which is why Joss Whedon needs to go off network TV, maybe he’ll have another successful show!).

Hawaii-Five-0 will be a lot of fun. Really, that’s how it came about in the first place. I feel like Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci finished up with LOST and decided that they really liked it in Hawaii and wanted to have an excuse to stay there, and they brought Daniel Dae Kim along with them. I don’t blame them at all. In fact, I say thee yea, Orci and Kurtzman, yea! I love the relationship between Danno and McGarrett. It’s antagonistically playful. The dialog is quick and witty–they won’t have any problems punching each other out, but they’ll back each other up. Grace Park is again playing a part which used to belong to a man. The pilot is a little uneven, and I thought they lost the opportunity to have a real continuous antagonist with James Marsters, but I look forward to see where it will go.

Oh man, Undercovers is a breath of fresh air. J.J. Abrams (writer/director for the first time since LOST) really knocked it out of the park with Fringe two years ago–it was different from Alias, not trying to replace it. Undercovers goes back to J.J.’s Alias roots. It’s action-packed, funny, solidly character-driven and filled with potential. The chemistry between Samantha and Steven Bloom is palpable (oh, the sexpionage…), and this is some new territory for J.J. Abrams in TV. While Alias, LOST, and Fringe deal with relationships in their infancy and developing, Undercovers involves the rekindling of a romance as the couple revisits the beginning of their romantic relationships, they each rediscover their passions as spies. There’s a hint at a larger conspiracy in the works, but it will likely be nothing like the Rambaldi storyline. I can’t wait to see what else J.J. has in store for this season, both with Undercovers and Fringe. Also, it’s been a treat to see the continuation of the motif throughout J.J. Abrams’ spy shows–the location titles. In Alias, each location is introduced with the name of the location which expands to reveal an image of the locale. Fringe scenes have a 3-D place name planted within a shot of the location. The locations in Undercovers are similar to those in Alias, but with a postcard image of the place and a flythrough to reveal the city. It’s a nice consistency!

I hope to watch these throughout the season on a regular basis, but we’ll see how my time permits such a commitment!


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